In this modern era of cannabis, where its popularity has reached heights many never thought it would see, there are a few who aren’t aware of the differences between indica, hybrid, and sativa strains. We’ve taken thirty popular strains and highlighted their origins, health benefits, and effects. Now, you’ll probably stop using indicas in the morning and keep that pep in your step with sativas.
Critical Mass is a combination of Afghani and Skunk #1 that originated from the breeder Mr. Nice Seed Bank. With a large “critical mass” of production, branches tend to snap from the weight of these dense buds. THC levels of this strain may reach 19-22%.
Hindu Kush is a pure indica strain named after the mountain range stretching 500 miles between Pakistan and Afghanistan where it originated. The harsh climate of its homeland has conditioned this strain to express a thick, protective coat of crystal trichomes. With a subtle sweet and earthy sandalwood aroma, Hindu Kush induces a deep sense of calm that helps bring relief to those suffering pain, nausea, and stress disorders.
Granddaddy Purple, introduced in 2003 by Ken Estes, is a popular indica cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud. This California native inherits a complex grape and berry aroma from its Purple Urkle parent, while Big Bud passes on its oversized, compact bud structure. GDP flowers bloom in shades of deep purple, a contrastive backdrop for its snow-like dusting of white crystal resin. Its potent psychoactive effects are clearly detectable in both mind and body, delivering a fusion of cerebral euphoria and physical relaxation. While your thoughts may float in a dreamy buzz, your body is more likely to find itself fixed in one spot for the duration of GDP’s effects.
Sensi Star by Paradise Seeds is a legendary indica strain that is renowned worldwide for its powerful full-body effects and subtle cerebral invigoration. Crystal trichomes sparkle like a constellation of stars against this indica’s dark green and purple coloration.
G13 is a very strong strain of cannabis indica that is the subject of many urban legends. According to some accounts, the CIA, FBI, and other agencies gathered the best strains of marijuana from breeders all over the world. At a super-secret installation at the University of Mississippi, they bred many new super hybrids in the late 1960s. Allegedly, a single cutting of this plant was liberated by an unnamed technician and bred for the masses. Although the legends are probably not true, G13 delivers effects like no other. If you have the opportunity, definitely partake of this strain.
Blueberry’s A true A-List cannabis strain with parents as great as Afghani, Thai, and Purple Thai to claim this as their own. The long history of the strain is traced back to the late 1970’s when American breeder DJ Short was working with a variety of exotic landrace strains. However, throughout the decades of Blueberry’s cultivation, the genetics have been passed around, due in large part to DJ Short working with multiple seed banks and breeders. The sweet flavors of fresh blueberries combine with relaxing effects to produce a long-lasting sense of euphoria. Many appreciate Blueberry for its ability to suppress pain and relieve stress and admire the strain for its colorful hues and high THC content.
Afghani is a heavy indica strain named after its geographic origin, where the earliest varieties of cannabis are believed to have grown. Breeders worldwide have come to treasure Afghani for its heavy resin production which is passed on genetically. With a sweet, earthy aroma, Afghani delivers a deep, sedating relaxation and euphoria. People most commonly turn to this potent indica to treat insomnia, pain, and stress disorders.
Chemdawg has developed quite the name for itself over the years; it has practically secured itself a permanent place in the cannabis hall of fame. The original source of powerhouse strains like Sour Diesel and OG Kush, Chemdawg is known for its distinct, diesel-like aroma. Pungent and sharp, you’ll be able to smell this hybrid from a mile away. Chemdawg tends to be very potent. Depending on grow conditions, this strain tends to have THC levels of 15-20%. Consumers can expect to have a very cerebral experience, coupled with a strong heavy-bodied feeling.
Bubba Kush is a sweet, earthy indica strain with genetics traced back to the Hindu Kush landrace strains.
Despite its wide proliferation, Bubba Kush exhibits a distinctive, bulky bud structure with hues that range from forest green to pale purple. Its effects may begin focused in the head, but it isn’t long before the buzz reaches the rest of the body. Some might consider couchlock an inevitable consequence of Bubba Kush, making this powerhouse indica a perfect go-to strain for evening relaxation, restful sleep, or a lazy weekend at home.
Girl Scout Cookies, is an OG Kush and Durban Poison hybrid cross whose reputation grew too large to stay within the borders of its California homeland. With a sweet and earthy aroma, Girl Scout Cookies launches you to euphoria’s top floor where full-body relaxation meets a time-bending cerebral space. Patients needing a strong dose of relief, however, may look to GSC for severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss. There are several different phenotypes of the Girl Scout Cookies strain including Thin Mint and Platinum Cookies, which exhibit some variation in appearance and effect. Typically, however, Girl Scout Cookies expresses its beauty in twisting green calyxes wrapped in purple leaves and fiery orange hairs. Patients and consumers looking to cultivate this cannabis staple themselves should wait 9 to 10 weeks for their indoor plants to finish flowering.
Among the most famous strains worldwide is White Widow, a balanced hybrid first bred in the Netherlands by Green House Seeds. A cross between a Brazilian sativa landrace and a resin-heavy South Indian indica, White Widow has blessed every Dutch coffee shop menu since its birth in the 1990s. Its buds are white with crystal resin, warning you of the potent effects to come. A powerful burst of euphoria and energy breaks through immediately, stimulating both conversation and creativity. White Widow’s genetics have given rise to many other legends like White Russian, White Rhino, and Blue Widow. Still, many growers prefer cultivation of the original White Widow, which flowers in about 60 days indoors.
Much like many other members of the Chemdawg line, the origins of Chemdawg 91 are shrouded in mystery. Rumor has it that the lineage was first cultivated by the illustrious East Coast breeder who also goes by the name of Chemdawg, and some speculate it descends from a Thai landrace strain. Chemdawg 91 is thought to be an offshoot of the original Chemdawg strain, and the numerical addition of “91” is believed to reference the year the strain first came into existence. Some growers believe Chemdawg 91 to be a cross between Chemdawg and Skunk, which may explain its particularly pungent aroma. In true family spirit, this hybrid has a very strong diesel smell with a piney-lemon aftertaste. Most Chemdawg 91 crops tend to lean sativa, though you may find indica variants on some dispensary and retail shelves. Consumers should expect a cerebral buzz from this strain.
Skunk #1 is a hybrid strain that has influenced cannabis on a global scale, parenting a horde of Skunk crosses since it first bloomed in ‘85. Sensi Seeds, who were called The Seed Bank at this time, bred Skunk #1 using diverse genetics from around the world. Central and South American, Afghani, and Thai varieties converged through an intricate selective breeding process that spanned several generations. Finally, the genetic cornerstone of countless cannabis hybrids was born. Sensi’s indica-dominant Skunk #1 gave rise to several genetic variations; sativa-dominant renditions were later harvested from the gardens of Dutch Passion, Nirvana Seeds, and Royal Queen Seeds. Skunk #1’s sativa classification has become commonplace due to its soaring cerebral euphoria and sativa-like growth structure. As its name suggests, Skunk #1 buds radiate with an aromatic blend of sour skunkiness and subtle earthy notes. This hybrid offers elevated creativity through its high-energy buzz, while stress and appetite loss melt away with Skunk #1’s potency.
Bruce Banner (probably better-known as the alter ego of comic book superhero The Incredible Hulk) is one of three phenotypes of the Bruce Banner strain and has proven to be a popular one. Effects come on quickly to provide an immediate burst of euphoria before easing into relaxation that may be good for creative pursuits. Delta9 Labs bred this strain from OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel, and its heritage can be found in its diesel aroma with sweet undertones.
Cannatonic is a hybrid cross with an MK Ultra mother and G13 Haze father. Cannatonic has been known to have a nearly 1:1 ratio of THC & CBD.
Northern Lights stands among the most famous strains of all time, a pure indica cherished for its resinous buds, fast flowering, and resilience during growth. Itself a descendant of indigenous Afghani landrace strains, Northern Lights has given rise to famous hybrids like Sour Diesel, Shiva Skunk, and Super Silver Haze. Pungently sweet, spicy aromas radiate from the crystal-coated buds, which sometimes reveal themselves in hues of purple. Northern Lights’ psychoactive effects settle in firmly throughout the body, relaxing muscles and pacifying the mind in dreamy euphoria. Comfortable laziness allows patients to relieve pain and sleeplessness, while its mellow contentment roots out depression and stress.
OG Kush makes up the genetic backbone of West Coast cannabis varieties, but in spite of its ubiquity, its origins remain a debatable mystery. Popular myth maintains that Chemdawg and an indica Hindu Kush parented OG Kush, passing on the distinct “kush” bud structure we see in many strains today. Other theories throw Lemon Thai genetics into the genetic mix, but no one can say for sure how this iconic strain came into existence. There are many different phenotypes of OG Kush, some of which include Tahoe OG, SFV OG, and Alpha OG. Whatever its true genetics may be, OG Kush is commonly described as sativa-like in its euphoric and happy effects that combat stress and anxiety. It has an earthy pine scent with woody undertones, an aroma that has become the signature of OG Kush varieties and descendants. With OG Kush, patients most commonly cite improvements in migraines, ADD/ADHD, and stress disorders.
Don’t let its intense name fool you: AK-47 will leave you relaxed and mellow. This sativa-dominant hybrid delivers a steady and long-lasting cerebral buzz that keeps you mentally alert and engaged in creative or social activities. AK-47 mixes Colombian, Mexican, Thai, and Afghani varieties, bringing together a complex blend of flavors and effects. While AK-47’s scent is sour and earthy, its sweet floral notes can only be fully realized in the taste. Created in 1992 by Serious Seeds.
Meet Headband, the love-child of cannabis’ power couple, OG Kush and Sour Diesel. The smooth, creamy smoke is accented by flavors of lemons and diesel while the long-lasting effects are great for pain relief, relaxation, and to combat elevated stress levels. Many report that the effects create a slight pressure around the crown of the head and feels as though they are wearing a headband. The effects have been known to come on slow, so pace yourself with this potent hybrid.
One of the most well known strains, Acapulco Gold has been likened to dinner at a five-star restaurant. The strain comes from the areas in and around Acapulco, Mexico. Its orange hairs resemble a gold nugget, with gold, green, and brown colors of resin collecting on the buds. An aroma of burnt toffee lingers when the bud is broken up. Acapulco Gold has a reputation for being one of the best cannabis strains ever created, and is becoming more difficult to find due to more growers moving indoors. It is also known to contain approximately 23% of THC.
With earthy flavors of lemons and citrus, Amnesia Haze is a perfect strain to start your day with a smile. The uplifting, energetic buzz is one you won’t soon forget. Its genetics have been traced back to the South Asian and Jamaican landrace strains.
This pure sativa originates from the South African port city of Durban. It has gained notoriety worldwide for its sweet smell and energetic, uplifting effects. Durban Poison is the perfect strain to help you stay productive through a busy day, when exploring the outdoors, or to lend a spark of creativity. Concentrate enthusiasts will both enjoy the over-sized resin glands which make this strain a quality choice for concentrate extraction. The buds are round and chunky, and leave a thick coating of trichomes on almost all areas of the plant.
Known for its sweet smell of fresh strawberries and an expanding sensation that can make even the most seasoned consumer cough, Strawberry Cough combines the mysterious Strawberry Fields strain with Haze genetics to create a potent sativa blend. The skunky, berry flavors will capture your senses while the cerebral, uplifting effects provide an aura of euphoria that is sure to leave a smile on your face. Strawberry Cough is a great solution for managing social anxieties and to balance yourself in times of elevated stress.
A sativa-dominant hybrid of Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze is a kief-caked multi-colored wonder. As the name states, this strain has real lemony characteristics. The smell is zesty, citrusy, and a little sweet. As for the taste, it’s everything one would expect from the namesake; tart and sweet like lemonheads candy – not quite as sharp as one might expect. The effects are uniquely energetic and lively, may not be the best strain for those of us that are naturally wound-up tight.
DNA Genetics developed Chocolope by crossing Chocolate Thai with Cantaloupe Haze to create their homage to the Chocolate strains of the 1980s. The hefty sativa buds give earthy, sweet coffee flavors that provide a dreamy, cerebral effect. Consumers report a strong, euphoric mental shift that is great when coping with depression or stress.
Super Silver Haze. By crossing the genetics of Skunk, Northern Lights, and Haze, we are left with a beautiful, sticky sativa blend that boasts an energetic, long-lasting body high. The uplifting effects are a great remedy for high stress levels or when suffering from a lack of appetite or nausea.
Sour Diesel, sometimes called Sour D, is an invigorating sativa named after its pungent, diesel-like aroma. This fast-acting strain delivers energizing, dreamy cerebral effects that have pushed Sour Diesel to its legendary status. Stress, pain, and depression fade away in long-lasting relief that makes Sour Diesel a top choice among medical patients. Its stimulating effects have won Sour Diesel a seat in the sativa category, but its poorly documented origins leave much room for debate. According to growing guru Ed Rosenthal, Sour Diesel originates from Mexican Sativa and Chemo. Other folklore will tell us Sour Diesel descends from Chemdawg 91, Northern Lights, and an unknown Skunk phenotype.
Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant cannabis strain that has gained as much renown as its namesake, the marijuana activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Combining a Haze hybrid with a Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk cross, Sensi Seeds created Jack Herer hoping to capture both the cerebral elevation associated with sativas and the heavy resin production of indicas. Its rich genetic background gives rise to several different variations of Jack Herer, each phenotype bearing its own unique features and effects. However, consumers typically describe this 55% sativa hybrid as blissful, clear-headed, and creative. Jack Herer was created in the Netherlands in the mid-1990s where it was later distributed by Dutch pharmacies as a recognized medical-grade strain. Since then, the spicy, pine-scented sativa has taken home numerous awards for its quality and potency.
Maui Waui (or Maui Wowie) is a classic sativa whose tropical flavors and stress-relieving qualities will float you straight to the shores of Hawaii where this strain was originally born and raised. Since its beginnings in the island’s volcanic soil, Maui Waui has spread across the world to bless us with its sweet pineapple flavors and high-energy euphoria. Lightweight sativa effects allow your mind to drift away to creative escapes, while Maui Waui’s motivating, active effects may be all you need to get outside and enjoy the sun. This tall, lanky strain is best suited for cultivation in warm, tropical climates that mirror its homeland, but a bright environment and nutrient-rich soil are typically adequate for indoor growth.
Also published on Medium.